5 Things I Learned When I Turned Off My Phone At A Concert

by Alex Zhang

There's been a lot of talk recently about the excessive use of cell phones among our generation.

Whether it's an excuse for not paying attention, engaging with our phones more than with actual people, fake social media personalities or Instagram models, the debate over cell phone usage admittedly brings with it a lot of negatives and strange intricacies.

However, for 99 percent of us, it's an argument that is swept under the rug. How big of a deal is it, really?

Apparently pretty big when you're an artist trying to perform and all you see is a wave of cell phone lights staring back at you.

Everyone from Alicia Keys to Dave Chappelle to Adele have banned cell phones at their shows before, and even Diplo and Skrillex were caught being openly annoyed with their fans last year at a private party over it.

Even if you're critical of those people who seem to watch the entire show through their iPhones, there's no arguing we've all been guilty of whipping out our phones at some point and trying to capture that perfect photo or video of our favorite band or DJ.

But let's get real -- you'll probably never even watch those crappy bootleg videos ever again.

And to be honest, the only reason you spent half the night taking photos was so you could post that perfect shot on Snapchat or Instagram, purely to make your friends jealous they weren't there themselves.

Recently, I actually decided to attend one of these "no cell phone" shows. No one inside the venue was allowed to use a phone in any capacity.

The show was a DJ by the name of Lane 8, who was playing the Fonda Theatre in LA.

Admittedly, it took me a little while to get comfortable without my phone at a concert.

Initially, I was bored. My hands felt empty. How would I update my SnapStory so my friends could see what a great time I was having?!

But eventually, as I got into the music, I began to realize the perks of being free from my iPhone for the evening. Here are my top five takeaways.

1. I actually got to enjoy more of the show than I otherwise would have.

Normally, I'll take a photo right when the band/singer/DJ comes out onto the stage.

I'm typically so enthralled with the idea of seeing a favorite artist live, my first instinct is to get my phone out so I have photographical evidence I was there, which I, of course, will post on social media.

I'll spend up to a third of the show on my phone -- either taking photos, answering text messages, updating my SnapStory, etc.

But by removing my number one distraction, I noticed my eyes stayed fixed on the stage for the entirety of the show. I literally got to experience a third more of the show than I would have had I brought my phone.

2. I wasn't freaking out over a perpetually low battery.

Typically after a show, my phone battery is almost entirely drained, due to the excessive amount of photos, videos and social media posts I've made.

After exiting the Fonda, however, I took my phone out and was blown away to see 98 percent battery remaining. Turns out, if you're not obsessively using your phone, you can save quite a bit of battery. Who would have thought?

This allowed me to send out a flurry of texts immediately after the show, which eventually got me an invite to the after party.

If I'd had my phone out during the show, it would have likely been down to 5-10 percent by the time I left the show.

Normally when in such a dire position, my focus would be to call an Uber, so I can be safely on my way home by the time my phone dies.

Full battery life gave me endless possibilities as to where the evening would take me next.

3. I met and interacted with new people.

How often do you actually meet new people out at a show or a party? These days, basically never.

You're either talking to the people you came to the party with, or you're on your phone. That will make up your entire night.

Take one of those options away from everyone in the room, and suddenly, people talk to each other. This was probably the highlight of the night.

Without a black screen to turn to, my friends and I turned to those around us.

4. Why would I pay money to go to an event and not participate in it?

Despite playing down my phone usage for the sake of not branding myself as a phone-obsessed-millennial, I'll undoubtedly spend 20 percent of a show staring at my little bright screen.

That translates to anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour of the show, where I've chosen to blatantly ignore the performer in favor of staring at my phone.

Unfortunately, I don't get a 20 percent refund for my ticket. This isn't specific to a concert, either.

The same thing applies to a football game or a house party. By putting my cell phone away, I got to enjoy the show in its entirety, as the performer intended the show to be viewed.

I picked up on the intricacies and narrative of the visual display of what I paid to see.

5. The world didn't end, and I didn't miss a party that Drake was at.

The good ol' FOMO argument. What parties are you missing? What else can you be doing? Is there something better you could be doing? What integral texts are you not seeing?

Turns out, 98 percent of the time, you didn't miss anything. I didn't miss a single thing besides a text from my mom.

It also helped me realize living in the moment and being able to have fun with the people I'm with is so much more rewarding and engaging than worrying about what you're missing out on or what else is going on.